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In 2018, the World Economic Forum (WEF), in collaboration with McKinsey, initiated the Global Lighthouse Network project. This network continues to aim to identify companies across sectors and geographies that have been able to scale up Industry 4.0 solutions to achieve both financial and operational performance growth, as well as environmental sustainability.  From the nine initial members in 2018, there are now 69 members of the Global Lighthouse Network.

Why is the Global Lighthouse Network an important concept?

These manufacturers are showing others how they have made traction and progress scaling Industry 4.0 technologies within the manufacturing plant environment.  Earlier research before 2018 by the WEF found over 70% of businesses investing in technologies such as big data analytics, artificial intelligence or 3D printing were not able to take the projects beyond pilot phase.

Out of the 69 lighthouses identified, 64 percent have been able to drive growth by adopting Industry 4.0 solutions. For example, while all Lighthouses have successfully transformed at the site level, a select number of  organizations have extended their Industry 4.0 journeys through the end-to-end (E2E) value chain, using technology to drive value for the enterprise connecting the organization from suppliers to customers.

Why this is valuable – it’s about people transforming with tech

McKinsey reports that a common thread across all the different lighthouses is that they put people at the centre of the transformation. And that is what helps unlock the full potential of the technology that has been deployed. This community can shine a light on ways using people to the best effect can transform factories, value chains and business models for compelling financial and operational returns.  Creating organisational maturity beyond the pilot phase has been a real block for many organizations.

What can others learn from Lighthouses?

This community of manufacturers is a built community ; in other words they have been brought together with commonalities to show leadership in using Industry 4.0 technologies.  In coming together under the project, it allows them to benefit in a joint learning journey, partnering on collaborative projects, developing insights and incubating new potential partnerships.   How others can benefit from their activities here is by seeing the possibilities that exist and applying it to their own situation.

Can other industries do the same?

Certainly, and that is the point of this blog post.  Building communities and sharing best practices has been driven traditionally from the supply side – e.g. the user communities of software vendors or the industry forums of major industry sectors like automotive, linked together by suppliers.   It is time that the users themselves drove the conversation and brought the best practices together from the demand side of the equation.